As kids, going out for fast food felt like the most exciting thing in the world—second only to Christmas Day and your parents taking you to Disneyland. Most of us are familiar with the crushing despair felt when you were on a road trip and you thought your parents were going to stop at McDonalds, but they drove right past (no? First world problem?)
As we get older, eating fast food becomes less of an exciting occasion and more of a ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ thing resorted to only on long road trips, drunken nights out and the hungover afternoon after the night out. Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who claims they haven’t eaten junk food in 10 years, in which case I don’t believe you!
While chowing down on fast food always seems like a good idea at the time, it’s usually followed by a nasty food coma and insurmontable sense of guilt. However, that doesn’t necessarly have to be the case! Eating out at fast food places every now and again doesn’t have to derail your diet—it’s just a matter of ordering the right things. That’s why we called on the experts to tell us the healthiest menu options at all of the usual suspects.
Okay, so KFC isn’t exactly the best place to go when you’re on a health kick. But if you inexplicably find yourself in one, you may be surprised to discover that The Original Recipe Burger is one of the better options.
The Original Recipe fillet burger is a reasonable serving size and only has 4.5 grams of saturated fat per serve, as well as less sodium than other options on the menu. Instead of chips, choose a mixture of healthier sides, including coleslaw.
-The Diet Doctor Moodi Dennaou, via The Huffington Post
With one on what feels like every street corner in major cities, Maccy D’s is the epitome of convenience food. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be the most unhealthy thing in the world—providing you pick wisely. According to dietitian Debbie Iles, the most healthiest option to grab at the golden arches is the seared chicken tandoori wrap. It meets the size, sodium, saturated fat and fibre requirements set by the Heart Foundation.
When it comes to eating healthy at Hungry Jacks (or Burger King, as it’s known outside of Australia), portion size is everything. Dietitian Debbie Iles says the Whopper Junior is the most sensible option as it’s one of the smaller burgers and has some salad on it. To make it healthier, you can ask for it without the cheese.
Subway certainly isn’t the unhealthiest fast food chain out there. But if you go for the foot long size or load it up with dressings, the kilojoules can very quickly add up. Moodi Dennaoi recommends sticking to a six-inch honey oat or multigrain bread with roasted chicken, as it’s the lowest in fat and highest in protein. He also suggests avoiding the kilojoule-loaded sauces and dresses and if it’s dinner (not lunch), have it in a bowl, not a sub. This will significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake at the time of day when you’re least active.
It’s actually really easy to have a balanced, healthy meal at Mexican joints like Mad Mex and Guzman y Gomez, thanks to the fact that most have a ‘naked burrito’ option. These are basically deconstructed burritos without the wraps—so, rice, veggies, meat (or extra veggies), quacamole, beans, sour cream and cheese. If you’re following a low-carb diet, you can ask them to hold the rice.
If you’re treating yourself to a ‘cheeky Nando’s’ (as the Brits say), dietitian and author of What’s Eating You?, Kathleen Alleaume recommends going for the classic chicken wrap. Not only is this a protein-rich option it has half the kilojoules, fat and carbs of menu offerings like the supremo cheese and bacon chicken burger. It probably goes without saying but skip the chips if you’re watching your waistline.
Can’t resist the delicious, carby goodness of pizza? We feel ya! You can make it a little less guilt-inducing by going for thin crust and choosing vegetarian, chicken or seafood toppings over processed meats like ham and salami. If possible, add some extra veggies to amp up the nutritional value.